izhilzha (izhilzha) wrote,

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10 Books to Read in 2012: Dust and Shadows, by Lyndsay Faye

At the beginning of this year, I made a list of ten books I wanted to be sure to read in 2012. I said I would try to review each of them for you guys. Well, I'm slightly behind, but since I'm not quite done with numbers 2 and 3 of the list, I thought I'd go ahead and review the first one I read.

Dust and Shadows is a Sherlock Holmes novel, but with a specific and appropriate historical twist: what if Holmes (and Watson) had investigated the Ripper killings?

If that idea kindles your imagination, this is a book you'll really enjoy. I'm not someone who has read much about Jack the Ripper, so that wasn't a specific draw, but I do love stories that take a character and put them in a specific historical context. Faye has absolutely done her research; the historical milieu is completely immersive, down to the sorts of details one doesn't normally think about in our age, but which would have been absolutely commonplace at the time.

The most striking thing I noticed was that Faye takes into account how recent forensic psychology is; we take for granted in shows like CSI that there are ways to deduce even the motivations of a psychopath. But Holmes has no such resources... and what he does uncover to help him is in its bare infancy.

Both Sherlock and Watson are gloriously themselves, facing a foe that defies human understanding, and yet persevering. The plot itself is tense and at points so horrifying that I had to put the book down for a while. If you like Holmes, or the Holmes and Watson partnership, and enjoy a well-crafted historical thriller, you should pick up Dust and Shadows.
Tags: books, links, reviews

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